And the beginning of another
It was just after midnight, on the 29th of November in 2013 when I first got my hands on my PS4. Next week, on the 12th, I will get my get my hands on my PS5 for the first time. It’s been almost 7 years and lot has changed for me, for gaming and for the world.
Maybe it’s by chance or maybe it’s by design, but for whatever reason, my life and careers always seem to be in sync with the release of a PlayStation console. I started my first job around the time of the PS3, started my second around the time of the PS4 and now, coming up the release of the PS5, I am once again starting a new career.
Today, I initialised my PS4 and traded it in at my local EB Games. It wasn’t my original PS4, but it was still a significant moment. It wasn’t even my second or third PS4. I think it was number 5 or maybe number 6. I’m a sucker for special edition consoles. However, this one, was my most used PS4 and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling sentimental when I hit “x” to confirm the initialisation. It was, after all the ending of an era. Not just for the console, but for me.
In July of 2013, I left my very first job. A job I had started in August of 2006. Whether we like it or not, our jobs often shape a very large part of us. When I left (ok, ok, I was fired) it left a big hole in my life. One which I quickly filled with other passions. By September of that year, I had my hands full.
I had a new full-time job, which was about 40 hours a week. I was working part time as a journalist/sports reporter. I was working on a novel. I was running a basketball blog. I was working on some video game guides. I was a cornerback for my local football team, and whilst I didn’t get a lot of minutes, training was still long and challenging. Not to mention game day! I played basketball 3 nights a week. On top of all of that, I still tried to fit in life – my girlfriend, her dog, my cats, video games, movies, books, shopping, exercise. The list went on and on and on.
Needless to say, by the time November rolled around, my head was about to explode. I say about to, but it did. Big time! My relationship ended. My ex’s dog was put down. I quit playing football. I stopped writing completely. Shut down my blog, abandoned my novel and stopped working part time as a journalist. I gave up on gym. I stopped working on video game guides. Most of the things I loved doing, I stopped.
The casts and I moved into a small apartment by ourselves. Time to start over. I committed myself to my new job (I’ll get to that later though). I needed to cut back on extra curricular activities and settle on a hobby or two.. I decided that I couldn’t pick between my first two loves (basketball and video games) so I kept doing both. Just for fun though. No more guides or blogs or articles or gruelling training sessions. Just my full-time job, a couple of games of pick-up ball and video games.
November was a good time as any to have a mental breakdown and hit the reset button. A new NBA season was just under way and in 2013, the Bulls weren’t garbage. They weren’t great, but I could enjoy watching them. Not like now. That’s a rant for another day though. What also happened in November, was the release of the Ps4. Obviously, I had pre-ordered it a long time before the release date.
On release day (or night), I headed in at midnight to pick it up. I had work at 8am the next morning, so I promised myself I wouldn’t set it up that night. I’d just collect it and go to bed. I was true to my word, I took it home and went to bed. It may or may not have been next to me in the bed.
It was the next day, after work and after dinner that I finally got to play. I played Killzone Shadow Fall and it was excellent. The other game I picked up was 2k13 (maybe 14?) and I was also in love with that, but had spent a lot of time playing it on the PS3.
Non-gamers (and some gamers) don’t understand how much gaming can mean to someone. Especially someone like me. Someone who was going through a really tough spot in life. Someone who had come from really tough spots. I didn’t have many friends or family. I was alone and left alone to be sad. At the time, I felt like I had almost nothing. It might sound pathetic. I might sound like a massive nerd (if the shoe fits though, right?). Gaming gave me a purpose though, like it had so many times throughout my life. When I had nothing, I always had video games.
They aren’t just a distraction from day to day life. They are more than just a way to escape from daily pressures. They can teach you so much. They taught me patience. They taught me perseverance. They challenge me to think. To react. To plan. How to succeed. How to fail. How to win. How to lose. They teach me about relationships, friendships and family. They spark my sense of adventure. My imagination. They make me laugh. They make me cry. They’ve scared and excited. They test my reflexes. My attention to detail. My ability to notice and remember small details. They are so much more than “just a game”.
When I held the controller of my PS4 for the first time, I felt all of that power. And all of it was in the palm of my hands. Not just the future of technology and gaming, but my future as well. It reminded me of everything in my life that I had been through to that point. All of the struggles that I had. It reminded me that I had overcome them all. So I sat there, playing Killzone. With a smile on my face, knowing that even though I was in a tough spot in life, I could overcome it. As sure I was shooting down Vektans (or was it the Helghast?) I would survive.
Obviously, you are reading his 7 years later, so I did survive. There were are lot of hard times on the way, but I kept working hard. I overcame countless problems, mental, medical and other. As I initialised my old friend this morning, it gave me a lot of time to reflect. Of where I have been and where I am going. The Ps5 is just around the corner and I can’t wait to see what the next era of gaming and my life bring. I can’t wait to feel the excitement when I have that controller in my hands.
I have a family of my own now. My cats are still with me. The bulls suck, but we are improving. I’ve got some good pals. I recently left the job I started with the PS4 and I’m finally doing what I love for a career. Sure, it doesn’t pay anything yet, but maybe one day. If I keep working hard. That’s another thing gaming taught me. The power of hope and of hard work. With those two things, I can achieve anything. I’m yet to meet an obstacle I haven’t overcome, regardless of it is in the virtual world or the real one.